NEW TITLES

Fantasy, real life, inclusion, verse and non fiction are all covered in the following reviews by our teacher and librarian reviewers, who have highlighted these books as ones to look out for.

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon
Christopher Edge

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788004947

Charlie, Dizzy and Johnny all have their own ideas about what lurks in the woods beyond the edge of their village. Dizzy thinks it might a spy, Johnny, old Crony - the child-eating monster and Charlie, her imagination piqued by secretly reading spy novels, is just intrigued. Setting off after school to investigate, Dizzy and Charlie get ambushed by Johnny and when Charlie hits her head a disturbing chain of events is set in motion. As night begins to fall, the children realise that they are lost amidst the strange sounds and under the dark canopy of the trees. Already frightened, their fear intensifies when they are struck in turn by disconcerting flashes of their future and past lives. When Charlie hears a voice calling her and is finally confronted by Old Crony, the strange strand of events begins to come together and Charlie realises how lost she has been feeling and how being brave can change everything. I am a huge fan of Christopher Edge so began reading this book with very high expectations. First point to note is that I was nearly half-way through the book before I realised Charlie was a girl! I thought it was very cleverly (and presumably deliberately) not mentioned. As ever, the writing is clear and precise and it's such a pleasure to read. As with his other books, the author is trying to convey big ideas in an accessible manner and whilst as an adult I could follow this, my only gripe would be that some younger readers might find the time-slip passages a little confusing. However, I would urge anyone to persevere with this book because it is another short and emotionally-powerful read - and the absolutely brilliant epilogue explains everything! 183 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon
No Ballet Shoes in Syria
Catherine Bruton

Nosy Crow Ltd

ISBN 9781788004503

Eleven year old Aya has arrived in Britain from Syria. She has left her homeland behind, lost her father and is holding the rest of the fragile family together, responsible beyond her years. When she glimpses the dancers in the community centre's ballet class, she longs to dance again - ballet was one of the things she left behind. As Aya finds herself drawn into a new community and slowly begins to find her feet, her difficult journey is told through a series of flashbacks. As the reader follows her preparation for an audition, new friendships blossom but the tension faced by Aya and her family as they wait anxiously to find out whether they can stay or face deportation is tangible. Bruton states she wants her readers to see beyond the label of 'refugee' and 'asylum seeker' and with this story she has succeeded in generating compassion, empathy and understanding. Aya's hopes, dreams and fears are the same as her peers, yet she carries another layer of sadness and trauma as she seeks to make sense of her past. Bruton skilfully draws us into Aya's life; past, present and future but without being 'preachy'; Aya is a girl, just like you or me. With tears running down my face, I held my breath as the story approached a deeply satisfying conclusion. Not all wrongs can be righted, but there is always hope, and above all this story is a hopeful one. Highly recommended for mature readers of 9+, this story contains emotive descriptions of the refugee journey, familiar to most adults but alien to most youngsters, and tragic events occur. 272 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Lucy Russell, teacher

No Ballet Shoes in Syria
Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Alexandra Stewart, illus Joe Todd-Stanton

Bloomsbury Childrens Books

ISBN 9781526600769

From the gorgeous, stylised imagery to the conversational tone of the text, I loved this book about the two men behind the first ascent of Everest - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. As the book explains, their experiences and strengths made these two the perfect team to ascend the summit, but author Alexandra Stewart also reminds us that the attempt was very much a team effort, from the porters and kit suppliers to all those who had made attempts previously and so broadened the knowledge of mountaineers about Everest. What stood out for me was learning that neither Hillary nor Tenzing had privileged backgrounds, but overcame their modest backgrounds through determination and single-mindedness. It's a strong message to give young people, not to let anything stand between you and your dreams - and that hard work will be needed to get you there. The book is formatted into sections, beginning with the two very different childhoods of Tenzing and Hillary, then an exploration of earlier attempts, before taking us through a detailed exploration of their ascent, including the near disasters and reminding us of the dangers and resourcefulness they needed in their attempt. Finally, we discover what happened to each of the men after their successful ascent of Everest. This is a book that demands to be poured over. The text is hugely readable and delves into each man's story with sensitivity and respect, and you do come away feeling that you know something about their characters. And although it is written retrospectively, you still feel the tension that the climbers must have experienced in the run-up to and during their attempt. The illustrations, meanwhile, glow off the pages - the white snow and blue skies transported me to the Alps, and I loved the scenes describing Hillary and Tenzing's lives beyond the mountains. This is definitely a book to share with able and reluctant readers alike, young and old, and those who love going out to find adventures - as well as those who love reading about them at home. Highly recommended. 64 pages / Ages 9 - 90 / Reviewed by Ellen Green

Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
Step Into Your Power: 23 lessons on how to live your best life
Andrea Pippins

Wide Eyed Editions

ISBN 9781786035851

Step Into Your Power is a brilliant book filled with signposts for young teenagers on how to live a fulfilled life with understanding and compassion, as well as self knowledge and self belief. For all those lacking in confidence, as well as those who are going through that journey of identifying who they are and who they want to become, this book will speak to them. The Contents are usefully divided into Power, Community, Choices, Act! and Self-Care, so it's easy to dip into, depending on the what the reader wants advice on. The style is non-judgemental and as the author and illustrator say in the introduction, 'It's an invitation to take steps, big leaps or small tip-toes, towards your goals'. There is lots to inspire, and suggested activities; Stepping into your Power activities include writing a letter to yourself from your older self; ideas for 'stepping into your fear'; visualising your older, confident self; and learning that it's okay to say 'No'. The author and illustrator of Step Into Your Power are American and this comes through in the text and design, but I think that will also part of its appeal to readers; the pages are 'loud', vibrant and packed with positive vibes! Not all the messages or activities will appeal to all young people - but there will be something in there that they will take away with them. It would be a useful book to use in PSHE lessons (ages 11+), with great activities to follow through. And while it's aimed primarily at girls, there are plenty of boys who could also benefit from these ideas! 64 pages / Ages 11+ / Reviewed by Julie Gale

Step Into Your Power: 23 lessons on how to live your best life
From Prejudice to Pride: A History of LGBTQ+ Movement
Amy Lame

Wayland

ISBN 9781526301901

This timely book boasts an attractive and accessible format. It is informative, colourful and well presented. Aimed at Key Stage 3 and above it decodes confusing terminology and explores the LGBTQ+ world in manageable chapters. American-British author, activist and performer Amy Lame examines the history of same sex desire, charts the struggles of the movement faced with draconian legislation and discriminatory societal attitudes, highlights times of tragedy and triumph and offers support and advice to LGBTQ+ teens via the further information and reading section at the back. She includes detailed chronologies summarizing landmark events in Laws, HIV & AIDS History, Media representation, Trans History and Liberation up to 2017, highlighting that, 'As acceptance increases it, LGBT history has become an important subject and it is being woven into more conventional history.' The symbolism of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag is evident throughout with the text displayed on a palette of vibrant backgrounds peppered with gender symbols and broken up with relevant snapshot style photographs. Moments of pride and prejudice are documented casting a spotlight on the stories of key LGBT historical figures including Anne Lister, Audre Lorde, Jane Addams, Oscar Wilde, Storme DeLarverie, Alan Turing, Harvey Milk, Vito Russo and many others. Readers can learn more about turning points that have affected LGBTQ+ life such as the Stonewall riots, Section 28, the AIDS crisis, same-sex marriage, and transgender surgery. The book also includes quotes, statistics, a timeline of the struggle for equality in countries around the world, sections on LGBT language, safe spaces and shifting attitudes regarding treatment in school and building diverse families. Lame explains that 'identities can change and evolve' and her words work towards educating readers who perhaps don't realise that "Too many people around the world are not able to be themselves". From Prejudice to Pride is a fascinating read full of interesting facts like the Gay's The Word bookshop in London supporting coal miners striking in the 1980s, the first openly gay rugby team being founded in 1995, Iceland and Belgium electing gay heads of government (2009 and 2011) and Netherlands being the first country in the world to introduce equal marriage in 2001. It is perfect for LGBTQ+ pupils wishing to explore 'hidden histories' and cis students who are curious about gender and identity and who have trouble understanding what LGBTQ+ terminology means. Lame has succeeded in writing a book that promotes acceptance, courage, empathy and pride. It deserves to be part of LGBTQ+ collections in school libraries. 64 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Tanja Jennings, school librarian

From Prejudice to Pride: A History of LGBTQ+ Movement
Summer of No Regrets
Kate Mallinder

Firefly Press Ltd

ISBN 9781910080948

Welcome to the world of Sasha, Hetal, Nell and Cam, four 16-year-old school friends who have pledged to have a summer of no regrets. Their initial plan was to spend the summer together but, one by one, their plans take them in very different directions. Sasha agrees to spend the holiday with her father in Geneva, having not seen him for six years, but is not expecting his new girlfriend, or the young man in the cafe. Shy Hetal decides to go to science camp, and finds a new competitive spirit. Nell gets a summer job, but after her accident her mother is scared to let her out of the house - so to do what she wants she will have to lie to her parents. Cam goes to look for her birth father, scared of the future when she can no longer stay with her foster family. What will she find? As all these choices become difficult, even dangerous, they will need to turn to each other for the strength to face the future. This is an absolutely perfect read - four believable and positive role models finding themselves in very real and believable situations. I loved each of the girls in turn and could not put this book down. It bought back so many memories of a time when I too wasn't yet grown up but was beginning to find my feet and flirt with independence. There is so much to love about this book and also so much for any teenager to empathise with. Relationships with parents and the frustrations that go with that. Knowing that you want to belong and not sure where you fit. The first relationship with a boy and not knowing quite what to do. Not wanting to stand out and draw attention to yourself and yet wanting something so badly that you are torn as to what to do. Wanting to grow up and be an independent adult and yet still needing to surround yourself with friends and family. The novel is told from the perspective of all of the four characters, each taking their turn. Multiple narratives can often leave you feeling slightly confused and less likely to invest in the story but not this one! It was perfectly and effortlessly written leaving you with no doubt whose voice you were hearing. Ultimately, in the words of Hetal's Nani, don't put off living; have adventures, do things that scare you. Don't say, I'll do it when I'm older, when I've got a job, when I've got a boyfriend, after I've had kids, when I've retired. Do it now. Spend your time with the people you care about, but don't let them tie you down. You get one chance. Take it. Grab it and don't let go. This is a beautifully executed, impossible to put down, fun debut novel from Kate Mallinder and I absolutely loved it! 232 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian

Summer of No Regrets
Lenny's Book of Everything
Karen Foxlee

Pushkin Children's Books

ISBN 9781782692386

This is a simply marvellous book; beautifully written and crammed with detail and richness. I would recommend it for older readers as there is a huge amount that is never spelled out but is not really suitable for younger children, possibly not even the oldest and most mature Year 6. Lenny Spink is Davey's big sister and she narrates his story and her own. Davey is a giant, he won't stop growing and by the age of six is as tall as an adult. The siblings are close and their world revolves around life with their single mother and a kindly neighbour in 1970s America. Then Burrell's Build-it-at-home Encyclopaedia comes into their lives, each issue filled with fascinating facts that open their eyes to a larger world beyond their small apartment. Lenny decides to become a beetle expert after reading about beetles in the B section. Davey loves the birds of prey and has an imaginary pet eagle. Both of them dream about running away and living in the wild in Canada. As time goes by it becomes clearer that Davey's height is a real problem that cannot just be brushed aside. The characters are all beautifully drawn and the emotion laid bare. The detail of the story is all the more remarkable because Karen Foxlee is in fact Australian. She has recreated an entirely believable time and place and filled it with characters who you might almost recognise if you met them. This book is both heart-breaking and wonderful. 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher

Lenny's Book of Everything
The Gifted, the Talented and Me
William Sutcliffe

Bloomsbury YA

ISBN 9781408890219

15 year old Sam is happy with his average, ordinary life at an average, ordinary school with his average ordinary friends in the average, ordinary town of Stevenage. So when Dad strikes it rich and Mum decides to move the family to Hampstead and send the kids to the North London School for the Gifted and Talented, Sam is less than impressed. He struggles to fit in with all the pretentious actors, musicians, artists and dancers and finds the school's creative freedom stifling (especially when he realises that this freedom does not extend to football - his one true passion - which is banned). Worse, his older brother and younger sister love their new lives and are thriving. Can Sam find a way to fit in while remaining true to himself, and will it involve putting on a mangy fur onesie dotted with weeping boils? The Gifted, The Talented and Me is a funny, engaging coming-of-age story full of laughter, romance, drama, luvvies and embarrassing parents. I must admit that it took me a while to warm up to Sam. He was a bit of a Standard Mopey Teen at the start of the book, but he was well written and (mostly) likeable, with a personality that developed satisfyingly and believably over the course of the novel - his humour and the way he matured over the book had definitley won me over by the end. My teenage self would definitely have related to Sam's relationship angsts - I'm sure my internal monologue when I was 15 sounded a lot like his. I can see this book appealing to a broad readership, especially KS4, or more mature KS3, readers who are after a fun and good-hearted story that feels real. 323 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Dan Katz, school librarian

The Gifted, the Talented and Me
Music and Malice in Hurricane Town
Alex Bell

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781847159601

Step into the rich, dark, velvety world of Baton Noir. A world of vampires and voodoo, curses and cajou, witches and conjurers. A city once vibrant and joyful now running to seed, a little derelict, a little decrepit; where the ancient magic of the spirit realm runs through the very fabric of the city. Jude's jazz music acts as a reminder of happier times, bringing the soul back to Baton Noir, and a respite from the corruption and greed. Baton Noir however, is in need of an overhaul, a shift of power... will the forthcoming Cajou Night provide this? We're introduced to Jude Lomax on a bad day, she just can't seem to catch a break and to top it off, she finds herself possessed by the spirit of the murdered cajou queen. Having avoided magic for as long as she can remember, Jude finds herself moving in echelons of Baton Noir society she'd rather avoid, with the supernatural and the spiritual in an attempt to help the deceased cajou queen find resolution. Alex Bell's Baton Noir has a real New Orleans vibe to it, you can feel the humidity as jazz notes lift off the page. She has created some enjoyable, intriguing, beguiling characters and they dance to a wonderful tune. 384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian

Music and Malice in Hurricane Town
Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper: Book 1
Bex Hogan

Orion Children's Books

ISBN 9781510105836

17 year old Marianne has lived all of her life aboard the warship 'Maiden'. This ship is ruled by her violent, ruthless and bloodthirsty father, The Viper, who is the most dangerous man on the ocean that surrounds The Twelve Isles. He shows no affection to his daughter, only expects her to obey his every command, as one day she is to be strong and ruthless enough to take over his title and rule the seas as he does. However, Marianne proves to be a constant disappointment to him as she doesn't have a murderous heart, she has one that is full of compassion and the need to preserve life. Marianne is a character that you root for from the very first incident we encounter with her, right through to the epic battle she has with her father as she stands her ground against him. Through the excellent writing of the author, the reader empathises with Marianne when she feels let down by people she thought she could trust, loses people that have taken her in and loved her, but most importantly the readers heart will bleed when this fantastic main character finds out that her life has been one based on lies and deceit. Through all this discovery she learns who she can really trust but there is tragedy as well as love ahead of her. Viper is a misleading book, the cover will fool you as it did me; you are not in for a gentle read! As you begin, the very first page will grab you, take you in and toss you around with its many twists and turns and totally engross you as the adventure unfolds. This book is not for the faint hearted, it's full of blood, death, scenes of torture, despair, venomous sea creatures along with a dash of magic and a little romance, but nothing soppy and full on. This breathtaking little book has 382 pages that are suitable for a mature reader of 13+, it will keep confident and less confident readers totally engaged due to its fast pace. It would also be a great book for reading clubs or for intervention groups. Viper also has the added bonus of a map at the beginning of the book, who doesn't love a map of a fantasy world, I ask? I'm so looking forward to the second book in this series titled, Venom, which sadly isn't going to be available until April 2020, but I'm okay with this just as long as the author writes with the same flair, thought and adventure as she has done in Viper. Get it, read it - trust me, you will not be disappointed. 400 pages / Ages 13+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian

Isles of Storm and Sorrow: Viper: Book 1
Toffee
Sarah Crossan

Bloomsbury YA

ISBN 9781408868126

I am not who I say I am, and Marla isn't who she thinks she is, I am a girl trying to forget. She is a woman trying to remember. Allison has run away from home and with nowhere to live, finds herself hiding out in the shed of what she thinks is an abandoned house. But the house isn't empty. An elderly woman named Marla, with dementia, lives there - and she mistakes Allison for an old friend from her past called Toffee. Allison is used to hiding who she really is, and trying to be what other people want her to be. And so, Toffee is who she becomes. After all, it means she has a place to stay. There are worse places she could be, but as their bond grows, and Allison discovers how much Marla needs a real friend, she begins to ask herself - where is home? What is a family? And most importantly, who am I, really? I set aside a morning to read this and stipulated absolutely NO interruptions as for me a new novel by Sarah Crossan is something to savour. I can honestly say that there is no one comparable in the YA genre and Toffee is absolutely no exception. Beautiful. Powerful. Heartwrenching. Uplifting. This novel has stayed with me since I read it. I feel like I know the characters and find myself wondering what they are doing now. I can't put into words how exceptional this novel is. Everyone should read this, 'grown ups' as well as young adults. Homelessness and mental health are dealt with sensitively and in such a gentle and understanding away I defy anyone to not be affected by this book. Stunning. 416 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Lucy Georgeson, school librarian

Toffee
All We Could Have Been
T. E. Carter

Simon & Schuster Childrens Books

ISBN 9781471179990

Every year, Lexi begins afresh at a new school. It is never long before people discover her secret and she feels that she has to begin again somewhere fresh where no one knows about her brother. She finds security in the routine of wearing a set colour on a set day. At least some things you can rely on remaining the same. Lexi is currently living with her aunt and has found her place within a drama group. She is making friends and might even be falling in love. But none of is it real; they don't know who she really is or what her secrets are. When they find out who she really is, will she lose everything or will her friends stick by her? This was a thought-provoking read. I loved that the author made it clear that you can be judged by others but that you do not have to accept that judgement. Characters are complex and their thoughts and feelings are dealt with very openly. Lexi, the main protagonist, is very engaging. She struggles with her mental health but is resilient and finds a way of dealing with the drama that unfolds. All We Could Have Been is a page turner. Lexi's past is slowly revealed and although she is constantly judged harshly by her peers for somebody else's actions, she never loses hope. I was intrigued by the visit to see her brother and would have liked to have learned more about why he did what he did but this wasn't his story; it was Lexi's. I would recommend this book to fans of Eve Ainsworth and Cat Clarke. A great read for those who are interested in psychology and mental health. Suited to older Teenagers / Contemporary YA fiction Note: topics include self-harm, PTSD, murder, asexuality, and there are sex and drug references. 304 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Clair Bossons, school librarian

All We Could Have Been
Fierce Fragile Hearts
Sara Barnard

Macmillan Children's Books

ISBN 9781509852888

Another fantastic title from Sara Barnard, this is the follow-on to Beautiful Broken Things. It picks up the story two years after Suzanne leaves Brighton and this time is told from her perspective. After recovering from her lowest ebb Suzanne is starting again. She is moving back to Brighton and most importantly, her best friends Caddy and Rosie. She hopes that this will be a fresh and positive start for her, but this could be jeopardised by the fact that her best friends are both destined to leave for university at the end of the summer holidays. Who will be left to give her the invaluable support she has always received from them? Life post care at 18 holds many challenges for Suzanne; living alone in a bedsit, holding down a job in a cafe; and dealing with a plumbing emergency. Throughout this story she encounters many people who are there to love and guide her. Most poignant is her friendship with Dilys from the ground floor flat, a friendship which spans the generation gap and is beneficial to both of them. Be prepared to feel the whole range of emotions whilst reading this novel, at times it is hard to empathise with Suzanne when she makes some decisions but underlying this there is a heavy investment in all the characters who are all meeting transition points within their lives. I really hope that the author decides to revisit this friendship group again in the future! Most definitely a 14+ read due to the many young adult themes contained within the book. 354 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Sharon Bolton, School Librarian.

Fierce Fragile Hearts
Proud
Various

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788950602

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself" [Song of Myself, Walt Whitman, 1892] Proud is a triumph. It is a timely LGBTQ+ anthology which celebrates and sings of diversity playing on the readers' senses like a beautiful concerto. The collection, selected by Queen of Teen winner and best selling author Juno Dawson, who writes the thought provoking foreword, is a joyful celebration of identity which will appeal to readers who appreciate sensitive, romantic, emotional, lyrical, poignant and amusing prose. Each piece is carefully chosen with an accompanying illustration in perfect harmony with its content. A feel good vibe radiates throughout the book from its symbolic cover with a fist signifying rainbow power to its nuanced storytelling. A galaxy of talented Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer+ writers and artists capture the complex emotions involved in understanding your identity. They talk of anxiety, fairness, fortitude, justice, love, strength in solidarity, the freedom to be who you want to be and the courage to celebrate [to borrow a quote from Oscar Wilde] 'the love that dare not speak its name'. Poetic, powerful and heartfelt phrases used include, "Be a beautiful thing. Be the moonlight too", "Be the glitter that shows up in unexpected places", "love is love" and "singing is best when it shines with truth and love". Each story deserves its place in the anthology with particular standouts being: Dive Bar [its vivid imagery freeze-frames the feeling of being restricted and constricted and the sense of relief and release at finally expressing oneself]; Love Poems to the City [Moira Fowley Doyle paints exquisite pictures with her words and evocative imagery promoting equality and solidarity]; Almost Certain [which has an emotive spirit of tentativeness and longing]; The Phoenix's Fault [which is about acceptance that love can take any form]; The Courage of Dragons [which challenges stereotypes while incorporating the fantasy genre]; and Atta's poem How To Come Out As Gay which includes the important line 'try to understand that she loves you and is afraid'. Significantly, four debut authors, who contribute a Chinese fairy tale, an LGBT version of Pride and Prejudice, stories about a diverse football team and a tale of runaways with a choice to make, also feature. Proud seeks to break down barriers of prejudice and discrimination and preconceived notions of what family means. It promotes understanding and empathy and revels in its range. Stripes and Juno Dawson are to be commended for collaborating on this amazing anthology which encourages LGBTQ+ teens on their different journeys, delivering the message that they "have the right to be proud" and that it's alright to choose whatever skin you want to be in. As the Bookshop Manager of Gay's the Word commented, "It's wonderful to see publishers like Stripes nurturing emerging voices because implicit in that is the message that no matter how different we might feel, everyone has a voice and that our uniqueness is a gift and strength". The welcome inclusion of author and artists' biographies and LGBTQ+ support resources complete the sense of bibliotherapy that LGBTQ+ teens will experience when exploring Proud, which can be read all at once or in happy segments. It is about embracing life and love. Different styles of art are also showcased which will encourage budding artists to create their own reading responses to Proud. This is a must for every library and wherever books are sold. 352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Tanja Jennings, school librarian

Proud
Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein
Sharon Dogar

Andersen Press Ltd

ISBN 9781783448029

Don't be fooled by the title, the Monster in this story isn't the one brought to life by Dr Frankenstein in the classic Gothic story but the characters involved in its creation. For this is the outstanding and completely compelling story of Mary Godwin, author of the original tale, whose own life is every bit as tragic and dramatic as that of the legendary monster she creates. Dogar cleverly weaves a tangled web of intrigue, emotions and relationships which inextricably pulls in the reader while at the same time showing brilliantly how real life informed art. The lives of these literary celebrities unfold like the reality TV show of its time, scandalising those in London society who look on in outraged judgement, gossiping shamelessly, and completely addicted to seeing what Mary and those in her close circle do next. We, as readers, share their fascination with these characters as their drama unfolds on the page: 16-year-old Mary, headstrong and idealistic, passionate and vocal about defying social convention and following her dreams; her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, staunch feminist and muse for for our heroine even after her own early death; her father, the stubborn and pompous social reformer, William Godwin; her half-sister, Claire, competing for romantic attention from Percy Bysshe Shelley as they elope to pursue their vision of free love; Shelley himself, the charming (married) Romantic hero poet, idealistic and reckless, but often thinking only of himself; the infamous Lord Byron, fashionable and flamboyant, womanising villain. There are abandoned wives, passionate affairs, infant death and suicide as our cast of characters travel from London to Paris and through Switzerland in pursuit of their ideals. Theirs is a story of love, passion and heartbreak, abject poverty and prejudice, idealism and radicalism, atheism, feminism and freedom. he way in which Dogar brings the past to life and reimagines Mary Shelley's life is outstanding. Rigorous historical research and exceptionally skilled writing captures the flavour of the era while creating a page-turning story, highly readable to a modern audience. Despite the initially intimidating length, short diary-style entries keep the pages turning at speed. Dogar treats her very human characters fairly, portraying Mary Shelley as an inspiring feminist heroine, fighting for her rights, passionately articulating beliefs which are just as relevant today. Indeed the condemnation and shaming she faces is only too similar to that which many women still experience. Dogar deftly avoids any hint of melodrama or stereotyping. As readers, we find ourselves attracted, despite ourselves, to the dark side of the very characters we long to despise. This is the book English teachers have long dreamed of - perfect to use with GCSE/A level classes to increase engagement and understanding of the set text or to stretch more able readers and tempt them into trying the Frankenstein story for themselves. Fans of historical fiction will love it too. It is a masterpiece and deserves to hoover up awards. A number of contemporary YA writers have put a new spin on the Frankenstein myth to create their own outstanding fictions: Paula Rawsthorne examines medical ethics, identity and the nature of love in the thought-provoking novel Shell while Chris Priestley creates a creepy gothic journey of friendship and betrayal in Mister Creecher. Other classic fictions are given a modern spin in Becoming Jo by Sophie McKenzie (a reimagining of Little Women) and A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond (a retelling of the myth of Orpheus). Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman sets the Othello story in deep space while And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness tells the story of Moby Dick from the perspective of the whale. Dogar's previous work, Annexed, takes the reader into the world of Anne Frank through Peter's diary. 464 pages / Ages 14+ / Reviewed by Eileen Armstrong, school librarian

Monsters: The passion and loss that created Frankenstein